JANE B. STEPHENSON was born and educated in Banner Elk, in the mountains of North Carolina. Jane has degrees from Lees-McRae College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1966, soon after her marriage to Professor John Stephenson, they moved to Lexington, where they raised their three children. In 1984, Dr. Stephenson became president of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. After the family moved to Berea in 1984, Jane intensified her interest in educating adults by founding the nationally recognized New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) in 1987, which has been in operation for thirty-two years. In addition to the Berea site, two other locations of the NOSW are at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and at Bluefield College, in Bluefield, Virginia. Over nine hundred women have graduated from the residential three-week programs at all sites.
Jane received Oprah’s Use Your Life Award in 2003 and has received other awards from various state and national organizations. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky, but spends summers in her beloved North Carolina mountains. All three of Jane’s children, their spouses, and her three grandchildren also reside in Lexington. John was diagnosed with leukemia and died in 1994. His work as an Appalachian scholar lives on.